Kollel Toras Rashbi organized an event for Lag B’Omer evening – learning, Zohar reading, a bonfire, inspirational singing and a midnight meal.
In addition, there was a limited raffle for a plane ticket to Israel, to visit R. Shimon b. Yochai’s kever in Meiron. “Only 100 raffle tickets will be sold,” the sign read. “$25 and you might be at Meiron next year!”
Toward the end of the meal, Mr. Simon, the director of the kollel, announced: “And now, the raffle to Meiron!” He put the raffle tickets into a box, mixed them around and pulled out a name. “Mr. Strass!” He declared. “Enjoy next year in Meiron!”
While Mr. Strass was being congratulated, Yankel noticed a card lying on the floor. He picked it up. It was a raffle ticket belonging to Hillel that had accidentally fallen and had not been placed in the box.
“Hold it!” Yankel said to Mr. Simon. “There’s a raffle ticket belonging to Hillel that was not in the box.”
Mr. Simon examined the raffle ticket. “You’re right,” he said to Yankel. “Hillel was left out inadvertently.”
Mr. Simon asked Hillel to come over. “We’ll refund your money,” Mr. Simon said to him.
“I don’t want that,” objected Hillel. “I want a fair chance at the plane ticket. If the raffle was erroneous, you’ll have to redo it!”
Mr. Strass overheard the discussion. “I’m willing to share the prize with you,” he offered Hillel. “I’ll give you $100; it’s much better for you than the one percent chance of winning if we redo the raffle.”
Hillel thought for a minute. “OK, deal” he said. “Leave it as is,” he said to Mr. Simon.
Yankel complained, though. “The lottery was not done properly,” he said. “It’s got to be redone.”
“What’s wrong?” Mr. Strass said to him. “Hillel doesn’t mind. You didn’t lose out. If anything, your chances were higher because Hillel was left out!”
“Nonetheless,” said Yankel, “the lottery was erroneous and needs to be redone.”
“Rabbi Dayan is sitting here with us,” Mr. Simon said. “Let’s ask him.”
“Hillel’s name was omitted from the raffle,” Mr. Simon said to Rabbi Dayan. “The winner is willing to settle with him, but another participant wants to invalidate the lottery entirely. Must it be redone?”
“If the lottery was done improperly, it is null and void,” replied Rabbi Dayan. “Any participant can insist that it be redone.”
“What is the source for this?” asked Mr. Strauss.
“The Gemara [B.B. 106b] teaches that if two brothers divided their inheritance through a lottery, and a third, unknown brother arrived later, the lottery is null and void,” answered Rabbi Dayan. “They need to divide again through a new lottery. The Shulchan Aruch rules, moreover, based on Tosfos, that this is true even if there were three fields. Each brother initially took one field and half of the third, and now the new brother received the third field through the lottery. The two brothers can insist on redoing the lottery also on the other two fields, even though the share of third brother does not affect those fields.” (C.M. 175:3)
“How does that apply here?” asked Mr. Simon.
“The Chavos Yair applied this ruling also to our case, where a name is omitted from the raffle,” explained Rabbi Dayan. “Any participant can invalidate the lottery, even though he has no direct loss to claim that the lottery be redone on account of the mistake. The same is true if someone’s name is entered twice, whether that person won or not. Other authorities concur with this ruling.” (See Pischei Teshuvah, C.M. 175:1; Pischei Choshen, Kinyanim 21:32)